Tinnitus Awareness Week
The American Tinnitus Association will recognize National Tinnitus Awareness Week, May 15-22, 2004. For information on participation, please contact the American Tinnitus Association at www.ata.org;  or call (800)-634-8978.

Company Unveils “One-Stop Shop”
Sprint, Overland Park, Kan, recently unveiled www.sprintrelay.com, which provides one-stop, direct access to all telecommunications relay services (TRS) offered for its deaf, hard-of-hearing, and speech-disabled customers. The Web site offers user-friendly access to Sprint Relay Online (via the Internet), Sprint Video Relay, and information about other Sprint Relay products and services.

With specific instructions about how to use Sprint’s various relay services and direct access to utilize the national video and Internet relay services, www.sprintrelay.com allows customers to visit one Web site for all their relay service needs. The Web site also features a newsletter for customers to learn about Sprint’s overall involvement and commitment to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

Sprint has more than 13 years of experience in providing relay services and is the TRS provider for 32 states plus the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the federal government. Sprint Relay services will allow those who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled to communicate with hearing persons on the phone through traditional, online, or video relay services. Sprint’s services will meet or exceed Federal Communications Commission mandates for TRS.

Traditional relay services involve a relay operator serving as an intermediary for phone calls between a deaf user and a hearing party. The TRS operator speaks words typed by a deaf user on a text telephone (TTY) or via the Internet and relays the hearing person’s spoken response by typing back to the deaf user.

Sprint and CSD (Communication Services for the Deaf) launched the first nationwide Video Relay Service in May 2002; it requires users to have a personal computer or television monitor, a Web camera or videophone, and high-speed Internet connectivity such as cable and DSL. Sprint Video Relay, powered by CSD, is a free service through the Internet that enables the deaf or hard-of-hearing user to communicate in American Sign Language to a hearing caller.

Sprint Relay Online is also a free service that combines TRS with the ease and ubiquity of the Internet, allowing users to make calls from any PC or Web-enabled Internet device without having to use traditional TTY equipment.

 Rock Star Promotes Hearing Health Care for Baby Boomers
Energizer, St Louis, recently launched a hearing health program featuring rock star Pat Benatar (left) to increase awareness of hearing loss among Baby Boomers and help drive consumers to audiologist offices.

The Energizer® EZ Change® It’s Hip to H.E.A.R.™ program is a national cause-related initiative designed to educate a generation—Baby Boomers—who are in denial about hearing loss, about the importance of hearing health awareness, prevention, and treatment. Leveraging the popularity of rock music to help make the issue of hearing loss relevant to boomers, the initiative includes a partnership with the national nonprofit group Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (H.E.A.R.), and offers special membership benefits to audiologists through the H.E.A.R. Partners network.

The Energizer EZ Change It’s Hip to H.E.A.R. program will reach out to consumers in May during Better Hearing & Speech month.

While 16 million Baby Boomers suffer from hearing damage, a recent national survey revealed that most boomers are not concerned about hearing loss or seeking treatment. According to the Energizer survey, only 1% of Baby Boomers rank hearing loss as a health concern and almost half (45%) say they are not at all worried about hearing loss. Nearly three quarters (73%) say they have never seen a doctor or hearing specialist to get their hearing tested. Despite this lack of concern, the reality is that there are more Baby Boomers aged 46-64 with hearing loss than there are people over the age of 65 with hearing loss, and there is 26% more hearing loss among Baby Boomers than in previous generations.

Beginning in April, audiologists can sign up to be part of the H.E.A.R. Partners program, a national network of certified hearing professionals and other concerned individuals who support H.E.A.R.’s mission. H.E.A.R. provides information on hearing loss and tinnitus to more than 1 million people worldwide and distributes hearing protection to over 100,000 people at music events annually. By becoming a H.E.A.R. Partner, audiologists can help educate millions of people about hearing loss prevention while expanding their business. For a discounted fee of $99, audiologists will receive a special 1-year membership, including: online business listings on the referral section of the H.E.A.R. Web site; increased awareness through H.E.A.R.-produced public service announcements with music celebrities for national radio, TV, cable networks, the Internet, and schools; visibility through H.E.A.R.’s outreach at music/health conferences, festivals, concerts, dance clubs, industry events, schools, and other venues; an Energizer EZ Change display for the audiologist’s office; $10 in Energizer Bucks, which can be used for gift certificates or cash; and the ability to participate in speaking opportunities on hearing conservation through H.E.A.R.’s referral network on hearnet.com.

The program will educate people about the importance of hearing health by distributing information online, in audiologist offices, at retail outlets, in the media, and through the H.E.A.R. grassroots network of street teams that travel to concerts and music events around the country. Part of the outreach includes a free Energizer EZ Change It’s Hip to H.E.A.R. Survival Guide, featuring information on Baby Boomer lifestyles, hearing loss detection, and treatment options. In support of H.E.A.R.’s efforts, Energizer EZ Change will make a monetary donation to the nonprofit organization.

In addition, Benatar will be spreading the message about the importance of early testing and diagnosis.

Digital Hearing Aids Distributed to Disadvantaged Youths
New Hyde Park, NY-based Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center’s Hearing and Speech Center recently announced that it is continuing its participation in a nationwide program that provides free digital hearing aids to economically disadvantaged children.

LIJ is one of only five centers in the United States participating in the program, which is funded by Widex Inc, a leading manufacturer of digital hearing technology. Hearing-impaired children between 3 and 12 years of age are eligible to apply for the program. Eligibility is based on the following criteria: The digital hearing aid is prescribed as the best option for the patient; the child does not have access to other funding, such as early intervention funds; the family demonstrates the need for financial assistance as determined by a sliding fee scale; and the parents agree to participate in the follow-up and monitoring program for 3 years following the fitting of the hearing aids.

In addition to the free digital hearing aids, the center is providing all in-kind services to patients who are not covered by health insurance. The center is also documenting the advantages of the devices, conducting periodic assessments of hearing, speech, and language over a 3-year period. The results will be used to improve pediatric management techniques for hearing-impaired children.